AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala was convicted by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, which set aside the Karnataka High Court verdict acquitting her in the 19-year-old disproportionate assets case, that also involved late chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The apex court restored in toto the judgment and findings of a trial court in Bengaluru, which had initially held guilty all the accused, including Sasikala's two relatives, VN Sudhakaran and Elavarasi. The two-judge bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy directed Sasikala, Sudhakaran and Elavarasi to surrender forthwith to the trial court in Bengaluru and serve the remaining part of a four-year jail term.
The verdict disqualifies Sasikala from becoming a legislator, and means she will have to spend 10 years out of active politics — effectively putting paid to her aspirations of the chief minister's chair.
The bench read the operative portion of the voluminous judgement, saying that "according to the materials and evidence placed on record, we set aside the judgement and order of the high court and affirm in toto the judgement and order of the trial court convicting the accused persons".
The bench said since Jayalalithaa has expired, the proceeding against her is abated.
"Nevertheless, we reiterate that having regard to the facts, the charge framed against them by the trial court is restored," the bench said. "Since the charges framed by the trial court have been restored against all of them, they will surrender forthwith before the trial court and serve the remaining part of the sentence," the bench said.
The trial court had sentenced Sasikala and her two relatives to four years imprisonment with a fine of Rs 10 crore each. Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years with a fine of Rs 100 crore. In a separate but concurring judgement, Justice Amitava Roy said, "We have expressed deep concern about escalating menace of corruption in society."
On 7 June last year, the apex court had reserved its verdict in the case after hearing detailed arguments from all the parties including the Karnataka government. On 27 July, 2015, the apex court had issued notices on Karnataka government's appeal seeking stay of the high court judgement to Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her relatives.
The Karnataka HC had on 11 May, 2015 ruled that Jayalalithaa's conviction by special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law, clearing decks for her return as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. The special court had in 2014 held Jayalalithaa guilty of corruption and sentenced her to four years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore.
Jayalalithaa and three others were accused of allegedly amassing disproportionate asserts to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during her first term as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996.
According to reports, a team of Tamil Nadu police has reached the Golden Bay resort to arrest Sasikala.
Tamil Nadu: A unit of Tamil Nadu Police with senior officials enter Golden Bay Resort in Kovathur pic.twitter.com/XEeBS72ywC
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 14, 2017
Subramanian Swamy, the petitioner who filed the case in 1995, spoke to media after the verdict.
I was expecting the conviction. I don't think she can escape the 4 years sentence: Subramanian Swamy on SC's verdict on #VKSasikala DA case pic.twitter.com/9xBqElaXkW — ANI (@ANI_news) February 14, 2017
Former Advocate General BV Acharya called the verdict a "victory for the Indian legal system".
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 14, 2017
AIADMK took to Twitter following the verdict. The party quoted the convicted leader as saying, "In the past whenever Amma was in crisis, I also suffered. This time also, I will take it upon me. 'Dharma' will win."
Her bete noir O Panneerselvam took a jibe at Sasikala and said that Tamil Nadu has been saved.
with inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Feb 14, 2017 11:43 AM